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No, there's no Trump-fueled surge in anti-Semitism

No, there's no Trump-fueled surge in anti-Semitism Despite Pittsburgh, there is no surge of American anti-Semitism. In the wake of the...

No, there's no Trump-fueled surge in anti-Semitism

Despite Pittsburgh, there is no surge of American anti-Semitism.

In the wake of the worst act of anti-Semitic violence in US history, Jews are scared. And their grief for 11 innocent lives cruelly struck down by a violent extremist has only been heightened by claims that what we are watching is the direct result of the Trump presidency, in which inflammatory White House rhetoric has provoked a revival of right-wing extremism that targets Jews.

Backing this assertion are statistics from the Anti-Defamation League, which reported a huge spike, 57 percent, in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017. Trump critics have relentlessly flogged that number to prove the president is responsible for enabling Pittsburgh shooter Robert Bowers.

Though Bowers opposed the president because of his close ties to Jews and ardent support of Israel, Trump’s conspiratorial mind-set and outrageous comment about Charlottesville last year (in which he conflated opposition to removing Confederate statues with support for the neo-Nazis) have fed those concerns, because it seemed as if he was assuming moral equivalence between Nazis and their opponents.

While his critics have followed him into the gutter with incendiary rhetoric of their own, not even his condolence call in Pittsburgh was enough to lower the national political temperature.

But the problem isn’t just that the oft-repeated charge that Trump is an anti-Semite is false. Nor that other claims, such as that criticism of liberal mega-donor George Soros is anti-Semitic, are equally bogus. The real fallacy is the notion that America is heading over an anti-Semitic cliff.

To start with, the ADL statistics are misleading.

The 57 percent jump in anti-Semitic incidents is inflated because it includes 163 bomb threats to Jewish community centers and other institutions in the first months of the Trump presidency. That led new ADL chief Jonathan Greenblatt to blame the president for the work of far-right extremists.

But it turned out the incidents weren’t about anti-Semitism: The main perpetrator was a disturbed Israeli teenager.

Greenblatt, a staffer in the Clinton and Obama administrations who has pursued an anti-Trump agenda at the ADL, never apologized, but instead doubled down on the error by padding the group’s stats with these threats (which accounted for 8 percent of the “anti-Semitic” incidents in the ADL database).

Another factor: 55 percent of all incidents in the survey concern vandalism, the motives for which are sometimes unclear, not violent attacks.

The hype about the audit also fails to note that violent attacks actually fell in 2017 by 47 percent, a point that belies efforts to blame Trump for undermining Jewish safety.

Perhaps most important, some anti-Semitic incidents (the ADL doesn’t try to track how many) are the work of pro-Palestinian groups on college campuses, which plainly has nothing to do with Trump or the far right.

Similarly, the continued influence and mass following of Jew-haters like the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan is worrisome, but his acceptance by the left does nothing to bolster the thesis that 2017 was the turning point for a rise of anti-Semitism.

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Anti-Semitic incidents reportedly increased by 57 percent in 2017

The Anti-Defamation League is reporting a 57 percent increase in...

While even one anti-Semitic incident (let alone an atrocity such as Pittsburgh) is too many, can anyone fairly claim the ADL’s total of 1,733 incidents last year in a country of 326 million constitutes an epidemic? Hardly. And that’s especially true when you compare the US to the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe.

But the chief problem with the claim that anti-Semitism is on the rise is that more Americans oppose Jew-hatred than at any point in our history. That is evident by the acceptance of Jews in every facet of American society. It’s also reflected in statistics, such as one from the Pew Research Center that showed more Americans â€" 67 percent â€" feel warmly toward Jews than toward any other faith group.

Pittsburgh was far from the first instance of violence targeting Jews, which means we must be vigilant against the violent anti-Semites who are out there, and educate against the old slanders against Jews.

Yet, while anti-Semitism festers on the far right and the left, Trump’s America isn’t nearly as dangerous for Jews as the ADL seems to be suggesting.

American exceptionalism is the main reason widespread anti-Semitism never caught on in the US as it did elsewhere, and the reaction to Pittsburgh bolsters this conclusion.

For all of our problems, America is still the land where anti-Semitism continues to fail. Anyone who forgets that understands nothing about this country or anti-Semitism.

Jonathan S. Tobin is editor in chief of

Source: Google News | Netizen 24 United States

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